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VOL. 132 | NO. 38 | Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Son’s Diagnosis Fuels Multifaceted Approach to Treating Diabetes

By Michael Waddell

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Dr. Kashif Latif dedicated his life to the research and treatment of diabetes after his son, who is now 20 years old, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when he was just 11 months old.

Dr. Kashif Latif has expanded treatment of diabetes beyond the walls of AM Diabetes and Endocrinology Center, establishing a 5K run for juvenile diabetes, providing education on a radio program and more.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

Now two decades later, Latif operates the AM Diabetes and Endocrinology Center in Bartlett, a comprehensive care facility for patients with diabetes and North America’s only specialized Insulin Pump Center.

“Dealing with diabetes firsthand, I realized that there was a lot more to it than just the perception part, and I decided I wanted to make an impact for patients who are dealing with this disease day in and day out,” Latif said. “So I went back and trained, and then developed the center where we have a whole scope of services, with dieticians, diabetes educators and pathologists in order to give patients a more holistic approach to treatment.”

His reasons for opening the center are multi-faceted. Not only does he want to right perceptions related to the disease, he also seeks to evaluate the disease at all stages, along with the impact on a person’s life and the community.

Memphis is an epicenter for diabetes, with Tennessee ranking fifth in the nation in its adult obesity rate. More than 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, with an estimated 8 million of those being undiagnosed.

Patients whose bodies do not produce enough insulin are called Type 1 diabetics. Type 2 diabetics produce enough insulin, but they have insulin resistance so there are times when medication, lifestyle changes and sometimes insulin are needed.

“We offer services catered specifically to both classifications of diabetes,” Latif said. “The cornerstone of treatment is lifestyle changes, and we are very specific about the kinds of exercise and dietary changes people need to undertake to treat the disease.”

Educating newly diagnosed patients and their families about diabetes and its treatment is a big emphasis for the clinic.

“We really take pride in our education here,” said Lesley Draffin, a registered nurse at the clinic. “We have a comprehensive diabetes class every Wednesday and at the end of every month.”

The center also offers services involving medication, and one of the ways to administer insulin is an insulin pump.

“We have a longstanding experience with using insulin pumps, so for the last three years we have created a separate space or a sub-center for patients who are on insulin pumps,” he said. “All of the personnel that they come in contact with have an added level of expertise as far pump functions, etc.”

In fact, all of the staff at the AM Diabetes and Endocrinology Center are required to try out wearing one of the pumps.

“The patients really like that because it lets them know that we know what they’re feeling,” said Draffin.

This spring, a more advanced insulin pump that can automatically administer insulin based on a blood-glucose sensor placed under the skin will be available for use in the marketplace. Latif presented research gathered at his clinic on the effectiveness of the new pumps at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinology national meeting last year, and the FDA approved the closed loop system last September.

“We showed that just by moving patients under the specialized insulin pump center model, we were able to reduce their A1C levels, which is a measure of how much the blood glucose is controlled, significantly,” Latif said. “Once we publish more research and get the word out, I hope we’ll see more insulin pump centers across the country because I think that is the way of the future.”

His center works at the community level to raise awareness and funds for research.

His center also is intimately involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and its efforts of fundraising, awareness and treatment of the disease, Latif said.

Five years ago, the center started the Sugar Run 5K, which has to date raised more than $120,000 – all going to JDRF for juvenile diabetes research. The run is held every year in November at Jonathan Park in Collierville.

The center partners with radio host Betty Lamar every Saturday at noon for a diabetes and endocrinology hour, The Betty Lamar Show, on KWAM-990. Her show helps educate the public about diabetes care in general as well as services available at AM Diabetes.

“At the center, they actually sit down so they can do a one-on-one with people, so no matter what your educational level they really give a wonderful class and all kinds of great reading material,” said Lamar, who has a close family member who receives treatment for a thyroid problem at AM Diabetes.

Another goal of the center is to get the appropriate care to underprivileged children.

“So many underprivileged children with juvenile diabetes really don’t get the care they need,” said Lamar, whose father had diabetes. “You just can’t get an insulin pump if you are poor. He wants to reach out and get those children on an insulin pump, or at least under his care.”

Next, Latif hopes over the next couple of years to develop an online monitoring system for patients who wear glucose sensors as well as develop a registry for patients with Type 1 diabetes in Shelby County and the surrounding areas.

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